Ex-Prem ref slams habitual Anthony Taylor after Chelsea defeat

Will Ford

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett claims VAR should be “empowered” to do more after Anthony Taylor’s performance in the FA Cup final.

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double enough to see Mikel Arteta’s side to victory.

Blues midfielder Mateo Kovacic was sent off midway through the second half for a challenge on Granit Xhaka.

FEATURE: 16 Conclusions on the FA Cup final

Anthony Taylor gave the Croatian international a second yellow card and most have disagreed with that decision.

But VAR could not step in. The technology is only able to overturn straight red cards, but that must change, according to Hackett.

“In the second half, with Arsenal leading 2-1, Chelsea had Mateo Kovacic sent off for a challenge that the referee Taylor mistakenly decided deserved to be punished with a yellow card, the Croat’s second of the game,” he wrote in his Telegraph column.

“In my view, you could not describe it even as a foul on Granit Xhaka and, at worst, the challenge was careless as opposed to reckless. Which meant that it certainly should not have been a booking.

“Television viewers and no doubt Stuart Attwell, the VAR, would have agreed on watching the replay. But Attwell could not call for a review because a VAR intervention is not permitted for a yellow card.

“The rule takes its lead from the disciplinary process, which similarly prevents clubs from appealing against bookings. This incident showed that on this point the law falls down, however.

“The VAR should be empowered to highlight a mistaken second yellow card. The technology is there: let’s use it as best we can. As it was, the FA Cup final is a huge game and the decision had a significant impact on it.”



Hackett went on to slam referee Taylor for his ‘habit’ of handing out cards, who also sent Victor Moses off for Chelsea in 2017 when the Blues also lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal.

“I was not entirely surprised that Taylor got the decision wrong,” he added. “He is a fine referee and had a good game. His positioning and work rate was exemplary and, to his credit, he allowed the game to flow early on.

“But, once a game has settled down, Taylor has a habit of reaching for a card too quickly. You get the impression that, at key moments, he would benefit from taking an extra moment or two to think through a decision.”

Hackett did give Taylor credit for some of his other decisions, though.

“That said, he got the other two big calls spot on. In the case of the penalty awarded against Cesar Azpilicueta, his foul began outside the penalty area but he continued to manhandle Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inside the box,” he wrote. “Assuming that Taylor initially played an advantage, he was right then to award the spot-kick.

“Shortly before Kovacic’s dismissal, the Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez appeared to catch the ball outside his penalty area. On studying the replay, however, while Martinez was outside the box, it was not clear that all of the ball had crossed the line.

“Taylor presumably gave him the benefit of the doubt, and rightly so.”